Badland

"Don’t let others tell you who you are. And if you do, at least don’t believe them," was her grandmother’s secret advice for her. Up there, as a child, she learned about the monstrous things that the humanity took part in, and silent terror descended on her mind every night as she recalled them. Unable to sleep, she used the books she read as kindling and her imagination as the fire starter to fall in love with her own monsters night after night. She made up stories that went on and on long after her grandmother and her books were no longer around. The parents of the New World never mentioned the monsters under the bed to their children, but in her Kara’s case, they would have seemed completely harmless compared to the ones living inside her. She was grateful, but only for her grandmother who furnished her formative years with books, and for the little girl who hungrily opened her eyes to a world far from her sight. She lost her grandmother early, but she would never lose the little girl. [...]

In the Midst of Fresh Ruins

His name was S. Was, and sometimes I’m not sure it even was at all. This is the story I thought I’d never tell. It’s also my favourite story of all. There are nights when I’m still burning with passion for all the things we did and all the more we could have done. These nights I don’t sleep at all. I toss and turn in my bed for hours, ardent and wanting and alive like I’ve only been since I met him and until everyday life happened and took him away from me. Other nights I sleep well, and I wake up laughing at all the others when I don’t. What am I losing sleep over? I wonder as I stretch and think of hot coffee and outfits, Stories with ghosts? Grow up, will ya, I tell myself and get up quickly, careful not to start questioning us again, doubting myself again, and generally thinking of all things that will never, ever happen again. [...]

A Thunderous Mind

"Tell me everything," he says. It’s getting darker outside, and his room feels colder. "Like what?" "I don’t know. Everything, from the beginning." I smile and bury my head in his pillow, imagining the love that could grow in his heart for the baby I was before I became his baby. "I have memories from the age of two." "That’s ok. Start there. I crave your beginnings too." I laugh nervously, thinking of what to say this time. Then all I feel is sadness. I realise he is asking me who I am. My laughter is extensity, it’s terror. If I wasn’t laughing, I’d be asking myself the same thing. I can't stop tracking was my veins, like travelling backwards to the speed of light on a roadmap of scars, remembering every time I got bruised, every time I got back on track. He puts his hand over mine. [...]

Scenes of Speed and Light

"So... how did you guys meet?" Oh, God, I hate this question. I ran my fingers through my hair, nervously. "At a bar," I finally said and giggled. "Oh yeah? Did he come talk to you?" "No, no. He was... in a fight. Outside. Jesus, Helen, I hate our story." Helen’s eyes opened widely. "He was? Did he win?" "Yeah... kinda. Well, I dragged him out of there. Me and a couple more. Then he was lying on the ground, when his eyes stopped on me." "And?" "And... before he was saying that we was going to wait for people to start leaving, then beat his ass again." "He did that?" "No, he let me call a cab and take him home." 'Oh, wow. He moved fast. With you, I mean. And you did too. Wait, you did that? You’re not like that. What about your stranger danger theory? My God, you collected your boyfriend from a fight?!" "Ah, well," I smiled, feeling like a badass hero in front of you-never-have-enough-fun Helen, "he can never be a dangerous stranger to me anymore." "He doesn't have to, honey." [...]

What I Don’t Say

Home, where I amplify myself, where even the way I breathe is different – like flames coming from the mouths of all the dragons I tamed on the way to building myself a home. But I could never take him there. He would have had to design his own. Mine would be nothing but wood and pretty carpets to him. There are no real secrets either, at least none that applies to two people at the same time. "I’m afraid of decluttering, forgetting, losing," they always say. Just listen to your heart, I say to myself, almost as a reminder that they are wrong. Your heart will never forget the essential. You don’t need to keep the real deal to stay tall, once you’ve had it. Experiences stay in you, you move out of them. [...]

How to Sneak Out of Your Second Story’s Window

On their first date, she wore a blue dress that fell to just above her knees. He thought she was glowing and never suspected that she might be unhappy. In fact, it was when he told her that the way she spoke sounded like a love letter to life that she realised he had won her over. Many women fancied him. He was a handsome, charming man, driving a green 1970s Mercedes and opening doors for everyone. There wasn’t room for many doubts. But most importantly, she thought, he wasn’t going anywhere. As the night went on, her regrets became more soluble and her unfading smile, more genuine. Their first time together was promising and she sincerely liked him. As he drove home, he could still feel the taste of her cherry red lipstick and the way her smile forms on his lips. In a world where his people and his gods have been slowly but surely dethroned, one by one, he could for the first time reinvent divinity by covering the outside with the inside. And she was all over. [...]

The Girl Who Could Be Queen

"Hello," she said standing at the door, swinging a leg. "I’ve been missing you a little, so I thought I’d come see you." "But we’ve only met once, haven’t we? By all means though, have a seat," he said, choking on his words, and pointed at the burgundy leather desk chair. "Actually, we’ve spent hundreds of hours in my head," she smiled softly, spinning in his chair, "being amazing. If only you could log in and watch. George, right? I saw your name on the door." From the outside looking in, it was just another brightly lit room. Behind its closed windows, two silhouettes seemed to be having a good time. But on the inside, eclipses and short circuits were taking place. His heart was racing. Hers was thunderous by nature, but stopped the storm to catch her breath in between words. There was magic, and there was balance, too. [...]